Saturday, 10 December 2011


Smell (nose) is closely linked to taste (palate) which is why wine tasters always smell the wine first. Enjoying food a wine with a loved one enriches the experience for both.

The bodily fluids of a loved one, such as saliva, can taste sweet when all your senses are aroused. Most lipsticks have a taste, and I remember a craze for fruit-flavored lip gloss.

There was a famous exchange in the British soap, 'Coronation Street.' Stan Ogden kisses his wife Hilda and asks what her lipstick tastes of. Her immortal reply was, 'Woman, Stanley, woman!'

But taste is so subjective, and can change through time. I can remember disliking certain foods in the past - olives, anchovies, parsnips, horseradish - yet now I relish them all. Why is that, I wonder?

I still cannot eat most seafood because of that odd mix of fish and sweetness, and the smell is a real turn-off for me. The manufacturers of Marmite have made a selling point of its 'love it or hate it' quality. Personally I love it, but because it is so strong and salty I can quite understand how others would not like it.

The first time I experienced the scent and taste of black truffle was very memorable. A restaurant was giving a 'truffle dinner' and they appeared in every course. As soon as the prized food was brought in the entire room was filled with its peculiar scent, one I had never smelled before. To me it resembled warm rubber - strangely alluring! Tasting a dish infused with truffle was a perfect blend of smell and taste, each augmenting the other. Quite an experience.

Perhaps if we all took our time over eating, relishing and exploring the many different tastes that nature has to offer, obesity would be a thing of the past. Wolfing food down allows no time to appreciate what we are eating, and if you appreciate every mouthful you will feel satisfied sooner.

The same applies to alcohol. Sampling a fine wine with food that complements its many subtle tastes is a wonderful experience, but I have no desire to drink inferior wine for the sole purpose of getting drunk. If you only drink with food the body absorbs the alcohol more slowly. Drinking on an empty stomach means the alcohol goes straight into the bloodstream, like poison.

Good taste is all about enjoying the finer things of life, whether it be literal tasting with the tongue or choosing to surround oneself with beauty. And aesthetic appreciation need not be a high-falutin, rarefied experience. We can all learn to use our senses more 'sensitively' and make the most of whatever comes our way. You don't need to be rich to lead a rich life!

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